Postcards from the Edge

of Bangladesh

Broken windows

After feeling quite overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things to do here, I’ve decided to start at the beginning. Which is a very good place to start.

There is theory called the Broken Windows* theory. It reasons that ignoring the little things sends a message that people can get away with the big things too. So I’m going to start with trying to fix the little things here. 

Attendance being the most obvious place to start. If people feel that they can turn up when they want/leave when they want/not turn up at all with no consequences, surely that sends a message that none of the important stuff they have to do is tracked/monitored in anyway? (which it isn’t, still working on that **). So by doing something simple like taking action against late comers/no comers maybe people will sit up and start taking this thing called ‘work’ seriously?

So, the attendance register (in existence before I arrived) is now brought to the ED every morning at 9:45 to mark all who haven’t yet signed in as late. Work starts at 9am, but we can’t be too radical here and expect them to actually turn up at like… say … 9. We’re talking about trying to change the habit of a lifetime here. Baby steps.

And we’re actually going to enforce the late policy (in existence before I arrived), that 3 late days to work in a month results in 1 day knocked off their annual leave allowance. Radical, but I didn’t write the policy. Rules is rules (said in an Afrikaans accent).

Well, at least it’s a start. Kind of. 

* It’s actually a crime theory, stating that crime is an inevitable result of disorder. If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking past will conclude that no one cares and no one is in charge. Soon, more windows will be broken, and the sense of anarchy will spread from the building to the street on which it faces, sending a signal that anything goes. Been reading about it in a book called The Tipping Point (I seem to have bought a rather unusual selection of books out with me for the year).

** There is a historical and cultural subtext to the state of this organisation I’m only beginning to scratch the surface of here. It’s very difficult for me to fully comprehend right now, but I’m trying to piece things together. More on that another time.


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